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Olivia Fryman

MA work

Objects of Pleasure: The Material Culture of Card Games in 18th-Century England

Men and women of the 18th century experienced a proliferation of leisure activities; pleasurable pursuits that were supported by a burgeoning material culture. My dissertation explores the fashionable diversion of card games as a social and cultural practice.

Through an analysis of the design and use of the accoutrements of play, playing cards, card tables and counters, my work seeks to reveal and elucidate the ephemeral, fleeting sensation of pleasure for the 18th century player. The experience of play is considered in relation to the nature and role of chance, an enigmatic shadow within an age of enlightenment.

In spatially situating the practice of play within interiors, my research also seeks to reveal the function of design, decoration and interior space within 18th century cultures of domesticity and sociability. Additionally, discourses of gender, class, conduct and performance are strongly evoked by extant objects, contemporary visual sources, literature, and accounts concerning card games. A study of the practice of play reveals the fascinating dynamic between people, objects and the pursuit of pleasure.

On graduating I hope to find a research position or curatorial post, which will allow me to further explore the history of material culture, interior design and social practice.

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2007

  • Objects of Pleasure: The Material Culture of Card Games in 18th-Century England

    Men and women of the 18th century experienced a proliferation of leisure activities; pleasurable pursuits that were supported by a burgeoning material culture. My dissertation explores the fashionable diversion of card games as a social and cultural practice.

    Through an analysis of the design and use of the accoutrements of play, playing cards, card tables and counters, my work seeks to reveal and elucidate the ephemeral, fleeting sensation of pleasure for the 18th century player. The experience of play is considered in relation to the nature and role of chance, an enigmatic shadow within an age of enlightenment.

    In spatially situating the practice of play within interiors, my research also seeks to reveal the function of design, decoration and interior space within 18th century cultures of domesticity and sociability. Additionally, discourses of gender, class, conduct and performance are strongly evoked by extant objects, contemporary visual sources, literature, and accounts concerning card games. A study of the practice of play reveals the fascinating dynamic between people, objects and the pursuit of pleasure.

    On graduating I hope to find a research position or curatorial post, which will allow me to further explore the history of material culture, interior design and social practice.

  • Experience

  • Editorial Assistant, The Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior, London, 2006-7; Assistant Curator, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion, London, 2006; Archival research and cataloguing, Snowshill Manor, The National Trust, Gloucestershire, 2004